Oil companies return pre-salt blocks to ANP

(epbr) The oil companies returned to the Union three more exploratory blocks, acquired in the cycle of the major post-2017 oil and gas auctions, according to preliminary data from the National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels (ANP).

Highlight for Saturno, in the Santos Basin, purchased in 2018, in the 5th sharing round, by Shell (50%), in partnership with Chevron (50%), for R$ 3.125 billion. In 2019, Colombian Ecopetrol became a partner in the project, acquiring 5% of each.

It was the second sharing block returned to the ANP, without the expected exploratory success.

— Repsol returned, last year, the CM-795, in the Campos Basin – area of the 16th Round of concessions, of 2019, acquired by the Spanish company for BRL 9.5 million. And the German Wintershall, leaving Brazil, returned the CE-M-601 block, in the Ceará Basin. The area was acquired in the 15th Round of concessions for R$ 9 million.

— Added to Peroba, the assets of the most recent rounds returned to the Union cost R$ 5.1 billion in signature bonuses to oil companies.

The post-2017 period marks the resumption of large rounds of areas in deep and ultra-deep waters in Brazil. The cycle was started during the government of Michel Temer (MDB) and maintained, later, in the mandate of Jair Bolsonaro (PL).

— It was part of a broader agenda of pro-competitiveness initiatives in the oil industry. This included the end of Petrobras as the sole operator of the sharing contracts and the easing of the local content policy.

— The changes attracted the major international oil companies, which invested tens of billions of reais in the purchase of exploratory areas. So far, there has been no discovery of the size of the largest pre-salt fields, such as Búzios, Tupi and Mero.

— Gradually, however, some perforations are bringing results. Last year, Petrobras announced discoveries in Aram and Alto de Cabo Frio Central, in the pre-salt layer.

Oil and gas exploration activities had their strongest year in a decade in 2022, according to Wood Mackenzie. And the Brazilian pre-salt was one of the main highlights.

— On the other hand, the cycle of major auctions ended in the country. The mega rounds gave way to the permanent offer – contracting on demand mechanism. In December, the ANP carried out the first PO cycle under the sharing regime and negotiated four exploratory blocks. Collected BRL 916.252 million in signing bonuses.

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